Call for flu jabs dur­ing preg­nancy

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Waikato woman Katie van de Pas never thought some­thing as com­mon as the flu could leave her fight­ing for her life.

The 29-year-old con­tracted swine flu (H1N1) in July last year at 34 weeks preg­nant and was in an in­duced coma for two weeks.

‘‘I had a bad cough so went into [a med­i­cal cen­tre] with a tem­per­a­ture,’’ she said.

‘‘The doc­tor took my temp and it was a bit high, 39 de­grees, and said I was get­ting the flu, so he sent me home and gave me some codeine to man­age the pain.

‘‘A few days later I started cough­ing up blood and was [even­tu­ally] cough­ing so much I thought I broke a rib.’’

Van de Pas’ oxy­gen lev­els were so low that an am­bu­lance had to be called, and she was ad­mit­ted to Waikato Hos­pi­tal in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

‘‘I was talk­ing to the am­bu­lance lady on the way to the hos­pi­tal and they made me pri­or­ity one but I didn’t re­alise why,’’ she said.

‘‘They X-rayed my chest and it was all white, it was full of phlegm.’’

The day af­ter she was ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal, baby Di­nah was born via emer­gency cae­sarean.

The new mother was se­dated and had to be taken to the Auck­land Hos­pi­tal iso­la­tion ward when it was sus­pected she had con­tracted swine flu.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion rec­om­mends that preg­nant women be the high­est pri­or­ity in sea­sonal in­fluenza vac­ci­na­tion pro­grammes.

Waikato Dis­trict Health Board med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health Felic­ity Dum­ble stressed the im­por­tance of be­ing vac­ci­nated ev­ery year to en­sure pro­tec­tion from new strains of the flu.

‘‘There’s been a de­lay in get­ting the vac­cine in New Zealand this year be­cause of the ex­pe­ri­ence they’ve had in the North­ern Hemi­sphere,’’ she said.

‘‘Be­cause of their in­fluenza sea­son, we’ve mod­i­fied our vac­cine to make sure we’ve got pro­tec­tion against three spe­cific strains we ex­pect to be com­mon this sea­son.’’

The flu sea­son is most preva­lent in May and June and Dum­ble said the vac­cine was free for preg­nant women and pro­vided pro­tec­tion to both the mother and the baby.

‘‘Women when they’re preg­nant are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to in­fluenza and that’s be­cause of changes to their im­mune sys­tem – they’ve got less de­fence,’’ Dum­ble said.

The funded vac­cine is avail­able un­til July 31.

Photo: CHRIS­TEL YARD­LEY

Katie van de Pas con­tracted swine flu dur­ing the end stages of her preg­nancy and was in a coma for two weeks. Daugh­ter Di­nah and she are lucky to be alive.

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